Maria Montessori believed that there are sensitive periods of development, during which a child’s mind is particularly open to knowledge or learning specific skills – approximately from birth to age six. Preschool children at Montessori typically direct their own learning. A Montessori classroom is a ‘prepared environment’ equipped to allow children to choose from the various areas: Practical Life (fine and gross motor skills), Sensorial (senses and brain), Language, Mathematics, Geography, History, Science, Music and Art. Children learn through discovery. The use of the Montessori materials allows children to learn by correcting their own mistakes, rather than relying on a teacher to give them the correct answer. The hand is closely connected to the developing brain, in children. Therefore, children are encouraged to touch the items such as the various shapes, numerals and letters that they are learning about.
Children most often learn alone during times of deep concentration. During these spontaneous and self-chosen times, the child should not be interrupted.
Children are encouraged to help and teach each other. Montessori schools are proud to be accommodating of individual students’ specific personalities and needs rather than viewing them as part of a classroom.
The New Zealand Montessori community is a vital participant in the global Montessori movement; from its beginnings early last century in many primary schools, to a resurgence in the 1970s, Montessori education has touched thousands of lives in Aotearoa-New Zealand and continues to do so.